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YCCCART: Yatton, Congresbury, Claverham and Cleeve Archaeological Research Team

History

The group has its origins in 2004, when the owner of Claverham Court Farm contacted Brian Bradbury, and Vince Russett, the North Somerset County Archaeologist, for advice on grant aid for remedial work on the Tithe Barn on the farm to ensure its preservation. Following a site meeting contact was made with the Yatton Local History Society, and with agreement of the need to record the structure prior to any work being carried out, a group of willing individuals agreed to meet on Thursday mornings to carry out this survey.

YCCCART survey on Yatton Moor

Investigation to locate the lost chapel on the same farm became the next target for the group. Other areas were investigated on this farm over a period of some years including a Duck Decoy, an Ox House, water courses and leats and a Pound. With additional interest the group (then an Archaeological section of the History Society) increased in size and its activities expanded as it was made aware of other features in the general area of Yatton that could prove to be of some interest.

Subsequent investigation and survey work included recording of a hillslope enclosure in the woods of Bickley; the first of many found by the group since its initiation. Over a period of several years the group investigated many areas and features including several more hill-slope enclosures on the slopes of Broadfield Down between Cleeve and Bristol International Airport; a Roman ‘Villa’ site, World War 2 Decoy, a Prisoner of War camp and a WW2 slit trench (including interviewing one of the Home Guard who helped to dig it!). The group also carried out ‘digs’ in Yatton gardens and walked fields which may have hidden archaeological features.

In 2008 the group decided to undertake a survey of the Cadbury Iron Age hill-fort (not previously fully surveyed). At this time it was felt that it would be useful to form a separate Archaeology group and in 2008 YCCCART (Yatton, Congresbury, Claverham and Cleeve Archaeological Research Team) was officially formed with a membership of about twenty and a full committee.

Funding

YCCCART - Congresbury excavation: YCCCART excavation at Congresbury graveyard

In 2009 the Team received a grant of £34,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund which enabled the purchase of various items of equipment to enable the group to carry out geo-physical and manual surveys of the many and varied sites in the area. The grant bid included provision for the member groups of CANS (Community Archaeology in North Somerset) to use the equipment when not needed by YCCCART. CANS is a grouping of local archaeology groups all set up by Vince Russett, who are investigating most of North Somerset’s archaeology. YCCCART is committed to providing assistance and suitable training in conjunction with Vince.The HLF funding has now ended but the geophysical surveying equipment purchased then continues in use. The team raises expenses in a number of innovative ways.

Current Activity

The Group is now starting or in some cases continuing the surveying of various sites with particular emphasis on Cadbury Hill Fort and its environs and also the Roman Kiln sites in Congresbury. The Group is also involving the local schools, local organisations and the general public in our activities by giving guided walks, presentations and talks to enable everyone to become aware of the history and the heritage of our local environment.

YCCCART has around 45 active members, and a successful web site, which includes c.55 reports by members of YCCCART, as well as reports on geophysical and other surveys that the team have carried out with other Community Archaeology teams across North Somerset, some of which have fed into North Somerset Councils management plans for their own land assets.

The team very much works in partnership with other bodies, including

YCCCART Castle Batch: YCCCART survey at Castle Batch

  • National Trust - geophysical surveys at Tyntesfield which recovered the location and plan of a former farm (possibly the original manor house for the estate
  • Yatton and Congresbury Parish Councils - which have been very supportive and have grant-aided scrub and tree management at Cadbury hill fort
  • other local groups, e.g. to carry out geophysical surveys at Castle Batch, a Scheduled motte in Worle at Weston-super-Mare, which has fed into the management of this North Somerset park.

A co-operation between the local wildlife group, YACWAG, YCCCART, Yatton and Congresbury Parish Councils (the land owners), the Forestry Commission and English Heritage has resulted in a management plan for Cadbury hill fort that addresses heritage, biodiversity and access, which has triggered a successful management programme which had previously been stalled for at least the last 20 years.

This team is an open-ended commitment – there is no end date for the work, which will continue as long as the team members wish to carry on.

Lessons learned

  • Community Archaeology teams need a lot of work and support at the beginning, when active members are usually few, and work programmes are starting. After a year or so, either they gain their own momentum and become largely self-supporting, or they wither on the vine.
  • The Chairman of YCCCART acknowleges that the involvement of V Russett, County Archaeologist, has been invaluable with his support, advice and help.

Further information

YCCCART meets on Thursday mornings. More information about the team and its work is available on the YCCCART website - including how to get involved and more details on the history of the group

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